The Fiji Times: The Government's rescue plan for the sugar industry includes a calculated deliberation on the benefits of closing a sugar mill in the Western Division, Ministry of Sugar permanent secretary Lieutenant-Colonel Manasa Vaniqi said.
Also under discussion are the gains of privatising the Fiji Sugar Corporation, he confirmed.
Lt-Col Vaniqi said those matters would be discussed at a sugar stakeholders meeting next week when the underlying objective would be to determine the most effective rescue plan for the ailing sugar industry.
He said that ultimately the final decision would have to be made by the FSC management and board. "I do not want to speculate on what may or may-not happen," he said.
"The closure of one mill and privatisation of FSC are just suggestions at this stage. These are just considerations which need close inspection, the ramifications of what these types of actions may have - economically, socially and otherwise - will have to clearly be examined before any such decision can be made. As I said before, these types of decisions will have to be made by the board."
It is understood there are suggestions to close either Rarawai or Penang mill for up to two years to carry out comprehensive and extensive repairs. Also to be discussed is the possible sale of government shares in the debt-ridden FSC to private companies.
"This is something we are considering - it may be something to look at - the privatisation of the FSC," Lt-Col Vaniqi said. "All these things are part of the Government's plan to rescue the industry. "We have already implemented part of the plan with the delisting of FSC from the South Pacific Stock Exchange and the Government taking over the FSC debt.
"All these other considerations, like the closure of one mill for complete repairs and privatisation will, like I said before, have to be done with close consultation with the FSC board, engineers and stakeholders."